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15 Comments on "Here’s what Illinois needs to avoid utter collapse – Crain’s"

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Mark: This is an absolute tour-de-force. My only suggestion is that you should suggest that Crains, SunTimes and Trib, have a page A-1 story each week, devoted to govt ee pensions. The masses who pay taxes and don’t work for govt need to know how recklessly gargantuan the values of pensions are for so many govt ees who can retire before age 60 with cola. Closer to age 50 for some. Values of these pensions are sky-high and essentially impossible to fund during their working careers. That right there is the crux of the problem, but the masses are clueless.

Agreed on need for massive pension cuts to better align them with what we receive (or don’t receive in private sector). The problem is that the Illinois Constitution, as interpreted by numerous judges, expressly prohibits cuts to pension benefits. Nothing short of a Constitutional amendment will allow positive change to occur, so I think the question to ask our Governor and Legislature is: “Why haven’t you proposed and fought for an Amendment to the Illinois Constitution that will allow lawmakers to address the pension issue?” Once the Amendment passes, only then can Illinois deal with pension issue over time — perhaps even moving state pensions from a… Read more »

Jack: Totally agree. Springfield has about as much desire as Sacramento does to amend State Constitutions. So the chances are probably less than 1% when Democrats control the legislatures.

As has been said by myself numerous times over the years, and now even Mark concedes it, you could amend the Illinois Constitution today and both the US Constitution Contracts Clause, and Ex Post Facto clause would not allow you to amend past pension contracts. You could stop future pensions for New employees, but thier pensions are now no better than Social Security.( and actually less payout than SS, until an easy safe harbour fix manifests) So ya dont need a Constitutional amendment to reduce whats allready been neutered by Tier 2 pension reform. Its the existing Tier 1 employees and retirees are who your after. Only… Read more »
Advocate: Please upgrade your grammar to at least 8th grade level; you’re appearing foolish, or as you’d type — “your appearing foolish”. Maybe you have a Tier1 pension (?, let us know)………but Tier2 for ees hired after ’11(?) do NOT have a worse pension formula than SS. It’s 2x better. Yes, their full, normal, unreduced retirement age is 67, as is SS, and early retmt reductions are the same down to 62 ( 1/15th reduc per year early), but SS provides pension with the formula of 90% of indexed pay to $10,000 (bend pt1), 32% up to $60k (bend pt2), and 15% over bp2, up to max… Read more »
Bob Out of here

I’m going to guess he gradjated from CPS.
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Steve, You need to research Tier 2 some more. Right now Tier 2’s benefit level IS lower than SS payouts triggering safe harbour problems. Plain Fact. You dont have to believe me, Others here who mostly share your viewpoint have said the same, believe them if my grammar confuses you. Tiers 2 problems as articulated on wirepoints: mainly by Mark. The lower tiered benefit level creates an inequitable system where new tier 2 employees end up subsidizing the pensions of Tier 1. The other problem mentioned here was the safe harbor benefit level issue I mentioned. Response to equity issue: It was/is thier own choice to take… Read more »

Advocate: I saw the Tier2 formula, for ‘Ees hired after 2010, in the Segal Actuarial Rpt for State Teachers Plan released last month. It clearly stated in the Plan Provisions section near end of Rpt, that Tier2 formula is 2.2% of High-Avg8-YrsPay x Yrs Svc. Payable at Normal Retmt age 67, and reduced 6%/yr if Paid Early.
You think I don’t understand the formula? If I don’t, then let me know what YOU believe it is.
See page 107 of the recent report:



Read this NPR article.. its very good….on Tier 2. Relatively neutral Souce I am pretty sure….enuff for Mark to use.

Google this- ” NPR Illinois Issues: the next ticking time bomb.”

Wirepoints posted this article when it came out. Its not the ONLY source that Tier 2 runs afoul of Safe Harbour but maybe one of the better ones in detail. We discussed it when it came out. Its long. But no PAY WALL like Crains or the Trib cited here often.

Would be fun to see our old comments as well…that we made in real time.


Nice Maritime reference….duh…just got it.


My understanding of Safe Harbor is that the Feds allow States and Municipalities to avoid the SS system….and can create thier own Retirement sytems…..but those systems much match minimally in benefits that which SS offers. This is the Safe Harbor law as I understand it.

Is that what you were asking Mark?

Or, Saying Tier 2 runs afoul of Safe Harbor means the benefits of tier 2 are less than SS benifits.

What pray tell besides pensions are ya after? I suppose a Constitutional Amendment alone would not let ya overturn existing labor contracts and collective bargains? Nor Erase health insurance obligations for the Total LABOR FOCUSED State Bankruptcy desired. A broad stroked strike on anything union(even taking squeezy) in an attempt to eradicate organized labors gains in the past decades. Funny thing though. Once this choreographed and orchestrated and everything labor Bankruptcy is over….and the Fed Emergency Manager Administration goes home…and Illinois returns to self rule again….wont Illinois return to the labor policies the prevailing political party has implemented for the last half century or more? Did ya… Read more »
Advocate: Too many what-ifs and questions from you. Here are the facts, and if something’s not done, the state TRS pension system will eventually blow up and there will be no assets. The actuary Segal released their 7/1/17 Act’l Rpt last month. For context the state TRS (which excludes Chicago) has 160,000 ‘ees & $10B Payroll (thus avg pay $63,000 including part-timers). The Accrued Liab total for Actvs & Retirees is $125B, assets $50B, thus underfunded by $75B. System is 40% funded, meaning 60% underfunded.. Just interest on Underfunding is 7% x $75B = 5.3B. Normal Cost for actives accruing an extra year of pension is $1B… Read more »